Tags: California | Drought | water | rain

Political Inaction Worsens Calif. Drought

Friday, 27 March 2015 04:22 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A San Francisco water manager is learning the hard way that timing is everything. Martin Sanchez, a $110,000 a year “public” employee, has been sentenced to a five-day suspension without pay after he was caught urinating into a reservoir that supplies the city with drinking water.

If he had only been able to hold it for another year, he might have been cited as a public-spirited volunteer doing his part to restore groundwater reserves and fight the drought.

That’s because California is running out of water. The Bible, in Matthew 5:45, says the rain falls on the just and the unjust and the same goes for the drought. According to Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA: “NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.”

And last winter’s “rainy season” didn’t help much either. January was the driest since people started collecting raindrops in 1895. Famiglietti adds that all the water currently stored in the state “snow, river, and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir.”

Since farmers can’t depend on the clouds for crop moisture, they’ve increased groundwater pumping and as a result in the Central Valley land is literally sinking, in some areas by as much as a foot. You may be thinking that’s planning ahead; when it finally starts to rain, farmer Jones will have a lake. But that’s not how it works. And no one is predicting rain.

In his Los Angeles Times piece, Famiglietti wisely resists the temptation to blame the drought on global warming, which made him much more credible in my book. His first recommendation is to begin mandatory water rationing throughout the state. After that he loses me.

Famiglietti wants to add to the state’s bureaucracy by creating “regional groundwater sustainability agencies” that will adopt plans. Then he wants a task force to “brainstorm” long-term water management strategies.

Then we really part company. His final recommendation is: “Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue. This crisis belongs to all of us — not just to a handful of decision-makers.” This is completely wrong. California is a democracy and for the past 40 years elected officials have done zero planning for long-term drought and have not built a new dam or reservoir since 2000.

I’m certainly willing to do my part and ration my use of water until the rain comes again. But I have no intention of accepting responsibility for the inaction and inability to set priorities demonstrated by state water authorities and elected officials.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.


© Mike Reagan

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California is a democracy and for the past 40 years elected officials have done zero planning for long-term drought and have not built a new dam or reservoir since 2000.
California, Drought, water, rain
Friday, 27 March 2015 04:22 PM
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